Progression & Finishing Raid Content

It dawned on me a little while ago that, although I’ve had a very successful run in Wrath of the Lich King on a personal level, something was missing. Something other than the awesome feeling of progressing with Apotheosis, that is.

Back in the day, pre-Burning Crusade, I wanted to finish raid instances. It always pissed me off that we got through Golemagg, and no further, in Molten Core as the guild Fated Heroes. It always pissed me off that we never did get Onyxia down as a guild. I didn’t care much for AQ20, mind you, but I was SUPER happy we cleared Zul Gurub several times — including Jin’do.

In Burning Crusade, as Apotheosis, we finished every instance we focused on raiding, from Karazhan (including Nightbane) through Black Temple. True, we didn’t even get Kalecgos down in Sunwell Plateau, but we’d spent precisely one raid night there actually trying to kill a boss, so I’ll forgive us that. When you realized that we only killed Maulgar and Gruul eight months after the expansion launched, I think we caught up pretty well by the end of Burning Crusade.

The beginning of Wrath was tumultuous for the guild and we stopped raiding officially in early March of 2009. We didn’t get Thaddius down. Nor did we have any adds on Sarth. And we didn’t even have a key for Malygos.

It was the plan to clear Naxx and get Sarth with 3 drakes. It was definitely the plan.

When I went to Bronzebeard to continue raiding, I was joining a guild that had cleared Naxx and done 3 drakes (like, once?) and killed Malygos. The guild was clearing content at the appropriate level, while content was still current. I had never been in a guild that was doing exactly that. I mean, Apotheosis was finishing up Hyjal and Black Temple when other guilds were farming Kil’jaeden. Fated Heroes was wayyyyy behind the curve when you looked at Eternal Force and Epic Again who were chilling out in Naxx.

So it was exciting for me to be part of a guild that was clearing the content. I got T7 cleared, in T7 gear, including Sarth 3D, pre-Ulduar. That was awesome.

And then came Ulduar. Ulduar launched on April 14th.

That night, my Bronzebeard guild got server-first Shutout (world 26th! I know, not a big deal, but still!). The next night, server-first A Quick Shave (world 905. Much less impressive.) and then, after a solid four hour night of wiping on XT, we got him the next night after that, getting server-second Nerf Engineering.

Server-fourth Antechamber of Ulduar achievement, server-first I Choose You Runemaster Molgeim (world 296) wrapped up April for us.

Things were looking good.

Over time, we did the following hard modes:

4-minute Ignis, Knock on Wood, 4 tower FL, Heartbreaker… and that’s about it, really. Never got Hodir’s hard mode, nor Thorim’s. Never even tried Mimiron and Firefighter. Never saw the Saronite Animus. Didn’t do Steelbreaker last. And I wasn’t in the raid when they did 3 Lights for the fail!priest’s forging of Val’anyr.

TOC came out and Ulduar felt half-finished. No way of trying Algalon and half the hard modes weren’t something we were capable of doing.

I changed guilds in September, to my RL Friend the Resto Druid’s guild.

The guild I joined was ranked 190th in the world, server-second, for One Light. A bit of a difference, no? I didn’t join for progression, but I knew I’d get more of it there than on Bronzebeard, since the guild was barely even raiding due to the emo /gquit of the raid leader.

I showed up and we cleared regular TOC 25 on the Sunday raid and spent some hours on the Monday raid killing heroic Beasts. One night. That’s all it took. My Bronzebeard guild had tried 36? 37? times over two resets to do heroic Beasts. The new guild had been finishing up stuff in Ulduar before focusing on hard mode 25-man stuff in TOC.

So heroic Beasts die Monday, then on Tuesday, they die again and we get heroic Jaraxxus. Heroic Faction Champs on the next reset. Then a MONTH before Twin Valks die, on October 26th.

ICC came out on December 8th.

We spent six weeks working on heroic Anub’arak. And in that time, we also took down Algalon on 25-man. It felt good, having killed every boss in Ulduar, even if not all on heroic. With my new guild, I’d also gotten Steelbreaker Last and 3 Lights, but Algalon was dead and that was awesome. It felt like this guild had finished Ulduar and I was a part of that.

Six weeks of work on heroic Anub’arak with a warrior add tank who insisted on tanking all the adds himself and not wearing the proper block/avoidance gear. This was the abusive RL/MT who just wouldn’t cut anyone slack, but it was FINE if he showed up in his stam gear. Seriously.

And then ICC opened. Until the Plagueworks were opened up on January 5th, we were still raiding TOGC, still trying to get Anub’arak down. It was painful. It was brutal. And we never did it.

We did go 12/12 ICC 25 regular. We went 11/12 ICC 25 hard modes. I even went 11/12 ICC 25 hard modes with a second guild.

But no 12/12. No “The Light of Dawn” title. (Still want to see a video of someone with the Light of Dawn title CASTING Light of Dawn!)

So it dawned on me… I basically did not finish the last three tiers of content in this expansion.

That’s unacceptable.

When did 11/12 hard modes become an acceptable stopping point? That’s like spawning Ragnaros and never killing him. That’s like getting right up there to Illidan and just staring at his face. Seriously. I didn’t get all the hard modes in Ulduar. I got to 4/5 TOGC. I got to 11/12 ICC25 HM.

Why on earth is this acceptable? Why are 4/5 and 11/12 considered “progressed”?

US 202 for Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25) was great. But why did we stop there? Why did I leave when they were doing heroic Lich King?

I couldn’t handle the toxic environment anymore. Every day that I stayed in that guild, I fervently wished I were back on Eldre’Thalas with Apotheosis. But Apotheosis wasn’t raiding. So it was off to Skywall I went, where I was welcomed with open arms and people weren’t total assholes. People were skilled players, good people and they were driven. Why did they stop at 11/12 HM? Time ran out. The patch hit. Official raids stopped.

And so it was time for me to come home.

It’s not an easy thing in this game to find a group of people who are skilled AND friendly, who do things at a reasonable pace, who aren’t a full tier behind.

This expansion, Apotheosis will be that. For me, for my officers, for my guildies. We all deserve a place to be where we can chuckle over accidentally BOPping a tank or mocking someone who failed at an elevator boss. We all deserve a guild where we can buckle down and get something done, even if it is on the infamous last attempt of the night. We all deserve the stability and strength from a solid group of officers who know their classes, who know their roles, who work well together as a team.

We deserve it and Cataclysm will be our time to claim success and joy such as we’ve never seen before. It’ll be the exuberance of a guild-first Vashj kill with the efficiency of Hyjal wave kills. It’ll be the laughter from DIing a tank combined with the skill that allows a group of 10 to conquer the Lich King without really having talked about Phase 3.

Four weeks to go.

Bring it on.

Guild Recruitment & Roster Management

Recruitment. Just that one word makes me want to run for my mommy. Of all the administrative tasks a guild has to handle, recruitment is the one I most loathe.

“Is this too many melee DPS? Wait, do we need more ranged? Is five warlocks on the roster really too many? Wait, I thought we had like six resto druids…”

Apotheosis is getting very close to being basically full for Cataclysm’s launch. Actually, we’re probably already sitting at full, but there’s always something that will come up and throw a monkey wrench in our plans. You have to allow for RL emergencies, RL schedule changes, RL issues in general, as well as burnout, general malaise, boredom and the like.

Not to mention the fact that our raid attendence requirement is 75% over four weeks. That means an average of 2 nights a week and then one week where you raid for 3 nights, to maintain Raider status.

So if the typical raid requires, say, six healers, you need a minimum of 8 or so on the roster in order to mathematically make sure you’re covered in terms of attendence.

If the typical raid requires 2-3 tanks, you want to make sure you have 4 who can all do the job at about the same level of competency (ie: not using potentially poorly-geared offspec tanks to start out).

Plus, you kind of want things to be relatively balanced. At least I do. I don’t think five of one spec/class is a good thing, but we currently have five warlocks interested; two destro, one demo, one aff and one undecided. Does five warlocks screw us over? No, but it makes fitting them all into a raid more difficult if every one of them shows up on the same night.

I’m working on a second recruitment/pre-Cata video right now. I hope to have that up tomorrow sometime and a third one up in two weeks. And then a “ZOMG CATACLYSM” video the day before launch.

It’s kind of weird, recruiting for a guild that hasn’t done a whole lot this expansion. I mean, if you want to get really technical, we’ve gotten up to Thaddius in Naxx 25, got Sarth (no adds) and didn’t get Maly.

That’s sad.

In the couple of weeks pre-4.0, we did get to 11/12 ICC 10.

And this last week, we got Lower Spire and Plagueworks down, Blood Prince Council down and Valithria Dreamwalker rescued.

So, really, 9/12 ICC 25 (regular!) isn’t terribly impressive.

Until such time as we get a couple heroic modes under our belts, I’m recruiting based on the success we had in BC. Yeah. Not a lot of people particularly care what we did two years ago. ;)

Still, we’re filling up those spots on the roster and getting there.

I’ve posted to the Alliance recruitment forums (old and new), the realm forum (old), MMO-Champion, WoWhead forums, and edited our info on Wowprogress.

Anywhere else I should post? Like, where do rogues hang out? Seriously. WTB a rogue or two. And an enhancement shammy!

I'll take it.

Apotheosis went in to ICC 25 for the first time as a guild. Here’s what we did.

– 1 attempt at Marrowgar heroic, before we did a one-shot of Marrowgar regular

– One-shots of LDW, Gunship, Saurfang, Rotface and Festergut (all on normal, even Gunship, sadly due to some buggy interface issues)

– One wipe on Putricide, followed by a clean kill

– One wipe on Dreamwalker, closing out the night

I was emphatically not prepared for a few things (Putricide phase changes are at 80% and 35%. Remember this!) and we definitely need to iron out some issues, but it went okay.

Tomorrow, I begin going through the logs and wearing the Healing Lead hat, which will involve talking to the healers. We had a ton of overhealing, which is fine, but I suspect there are some other issues as well that will need to be touched upon.

It was pretty disappointing to see that a healer and a tank just flat-out didn’t show. The tank had some last-minute recording to do with the band he’s in. I’m going to have to give him my cell number I guess, so he can text me in the future or something. Very bad to have a tank who just doesn’t show.

The healer? No idea. Would have been great to have a resto druid. But alas.

At least we had a feral druid who knew the fights and was able to be a kitty and a bear as needed. And we had E, the wonderous priest, pinch-heal for us.

So despite a slow start (looking for fillers) and some DC issues, it went pretty well. I hadn’t thought we’d get Putricide so easily, but we did. :)

My officers kicked ass and did a great job together. At one point, it was almost like we were in BT again. Good times. :)

All in all, it went well and we’re going to try to go back on Thursday. I think we’ll start out in Blood and then move to Frost. That gives me some time to sit there and write up a coherent Sindragosa strategy…

Next week, assuming we do this again… Heroic Marrowgar is gonna be our bitch. :)

Trial of the Idiotic Crusader

There are three things anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time knows about me:

1) I hate 10-man raids.

2) I’m a pretty decent holy paladin who is very familiar with the changes to the class, given time on beta and such.

3) I’m pretty damn well-geared. (Bear in mind that chardev isn’t all the way up to date, but at least the gear I’m wearing there is what I’m wearing on live.)

Tonight, a certain priest was asking in guild if anyone was up for TOGC10. I didn’t say anything. I purposely didn’t say anything. Until like, the third time she asked and I was like, well, crap.

So I sighed and let her know that if she desperately needed me, I’d heal. But I had a few things to do first — update a website, take a phone call… it would be 15 minutes at least, probably closer to 20. Ended up being about 30, but anyways.

It was mostly a guild group. 2 tanks (both paladins), two healers (me and O), then a hunter, an ele shammy, a warlock and an enhancement shaman all from our guild, with a ret paladin and a DPS warrior as pugs, rounding out the group.

I don’t know what anyone else was assuming about it, but I assumed the following:

People aren’t going to know what to do and this is going to be painful.

By and large, I was right. I wasn’t horribly frustrated by that. I expected it. I did not expect 7 wipes on heroic beasts. Nor did I expect a Jaraxxus one-shot.

This isn’t a blog post about how my guildies and I (well, mostly my guildies) got Tribute to Skill or got the TOGC 10 achievement. (I’d never done it all the way before.) It’s not even a blog post about how I still hate the warlock and felhound on Faction Champs or the pain that Light Vortex can bring. Nor is it about how we didn’t even actually get a burrow on our first Anub attempt.

It’s about my experience healing.

Fuck that place.

It dawned on me, perhaps on our fourth wipe on heroic beasts, that we are at that stupid time of the expansion where:

a) we are not tuned in our abilities,

b) the environment has not changed so that our abilities have even a SEMBLANCE of being tuned.

You can get away with this in ICC with 30% more health, more damage, more healing and more absorption.

It is very much a different story when attempting to do content that is a little more challenging than your average dungeon without a buff.

O and I are good healers and both very experienced in TOGC. We’re both 4/5 TOGC 25 (stupid Anub…) and, between us, we have 33 kills of heroic beasts on 25-man. Granted, she had those kills on her druid instead of her priest, but hey. Experience, you know? It matters.

So while I anticipated some problems, I was, in no way, prepared for the amount of problems we had.

First of all, I kept losing my tank on Northrend Beasts.

I didn’t know why. I STILL don’t know why, except for two attempts.

Seriously, I’m looking at the logs right now.

Barring attempts where I got Paralytic Toxin on the worms… and barring the attempt where someone got trampled and so Icehowl enraged (and no tranq shot was cast!)…

So attempt 1: Paralytic Toxin, which means running, which means not casting.

Attempt 2, Trample/enrage.

Attempt 3, not sure why, but my tank (as opposed to my brother, who was also tanking) ended up with both Molten Spew AND Acid Spit. Ow.

Attempt 4, ah yes, there I was standing around, casting, minding my own goddamn business and someone runs past me with a Snobold on their head. No, they didn’t run past me. They ran right next to me. So that the Snobold was actually IN RANGE of me.

[22:04:52.365] Madrana begins to cast Divine Light
[22:04:52.365] Snobold Vassal casts Batter on Madrana
[22:04:52.365] Snobold Vassal’s Batter interrupts Madrana’s Divine Light
[22:04:52.469] Snobold Vassal Batter Madrana 992 (O: -1)
[22:04:52.771] Madrana Retribution Aura Snobold Vassal 284 (O: -1)
[22:04:53.971] Gormok the Impaler Impale PallyTank 7046 (O: -1)
[22:04:54.377] Gormok the Impaler hits PallyTank 7474 (O: 7941)
[22:04:54.785] PallyTank dies

Dead tank.

Attempt 5, Paralytic Toxin.

Attempt 6, I tried to squeeze a heal out to a DPS who had stood in the fire just a touch too long and then got caught with the long cast time on Divine Light. Even with over 1000 haste, it’s just SUCH a long cast. My instincts definitely betrayed me here. Divine Light may be the spell the most similar to the old Holy Light and it may even have the same Clique bind as my old faithful HL… but the cast time ALONE needs to set it far, far apart from Holy Light. 2.5 second talented base cast time. That’s crap is what it is. In this world of content where your tank can and WILL die within 1-2 GCDs, that’s a death sentence.

Attempt 7, at least it wasn’t my tank who died. O got a Head Crack from a Snobold and couldn’t adequately cast, so Fog went down.

It’s not all bad RNG, but it looks like a lot of it was. If only I hadn’t been silenced. If only O hadn’t been silenced. If only Icehowl hadn’t trampled someone. If only…

We one-shotted Jaraxxus, though, mostly because hi, it’s a healing fight and O and I could probably both heal our way through that fight in our sleep, having a combined 29 kills on 25-man heroic Jaraxxus.

We wiped twice on Faction Champs before O had to go (she hadn’t anticipated taking so long with the issues we’d had on the beasts) and we pulled in my favourite BC-era priest, E.

Faction Champs down on the first try. At least this fight hasn’t changed much. I still hate Unstable Affliction.

Also, the Horde (or, I guess, Alliance, if you’re Horde) druid is still in perma-tree form. FYI.

On to Twin Valks!

This was the suck. Mostly because it felt like I couldn’t do anything EXCEPT spam Divine Light in order to keep up the tank. We’d gone with a one tank setup wherein the DPS all get dark aura and burn the crap out of the white Valk, leaving the tank to just use passive AOE and such to hold aggro on the black Valk. It was fine… unless I wanted to judge or something. So I judged on the pull on the third attempt and spammed Divine Light, so that it was more than half my healing done and I had pathetic use of the other spells in my arsenal.

Now, while this is somewhat an unorthodox method of doing it (I would have been much more comfortable with Fog and the pally tank on one mob each) it’s still ridiculous that due to the insanely high cast time (at least, relatively speaking), I can’t even afford to judge once a minute on that fight and have to use my other instants very sparingly.

Holy paladins are very broken here and I would submit that Holy Light should have a medium cast time. When they talked about a three-heal system, here’s what I thought:

FoL: Short cast, very expensive, average throughput

HL: Medium cast, medium cost, average throughput

DL: Long cast, expensive cost (not very, but higher than medium), huge throughput

Instead, we have:

FoL: Short cast, very expensive, average throughput

HL: Long cast, very cheap cost, less than average throughput

DL: Long cast, expensive cost, huge throughput

There HAS to be a step between FoL and HL/DL. That’s what we’re really missing. A two-second (talented) cast time on a casted spell. Like the old HL with Light’s Grace up.

Anyways. Anub’arak went smoothly, surprisingly, despite poor positioning. We had one wipe but we learned that, with hero, we could push him into P2 without a burrow.

Naturally, we pulled him a second time without first checking to make sure hero was up. Whoops.

We kited him around in the burrow phase without issue and then burned him down. Props to E for being a kick-ass healer, as per usual.

So that was most of my evening. I hate that instance. I never, ever, EVER want to do it again, not on normal 10 or 25 and certainly not on heroic 10 or 25. It’s just not meant to work with our current abilities and talents.

After getting down to a 1.3s Holy Light, having Sacred Shield and things like Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian and running TOC/TOGC with those tools and that speedy cast, I could do anything. Running it tonight (well, technically last night) was a painful reminder that I am gimped far beyond what I recognize and that I am nowhere near as good a healer as I was three weeks ago.

What sucks is that it’s not that I’m not a good healer. It’s that my mechanics make me a worse healer than I was. I could reliably do my job, three weeks ago. This raid picked away at some of my confidence.

See, I KNEW that I could do what was required of me in there. Or I thought I could. Now, I’m not so sure. And I’m not so sure it’s even that I’m not making the right decisions, because I think I AM making the right decisions, just about all of the time.

The mechanics, especially when matched against that particular instance on that particular difficulty, are just flat-out going to lose against TOGC10. Did we get the achievement and finish the instance? Yes. But would it have gone about 10 times more smoothly back in the world of 3.3.x? Hell yes. I wouldn’t have had any problems. None. I know my capabilities.

And what I saw in TOGC10 really hit me hard.

We have an ICC 25 coming up on Tuesday and perhaps one on Thursday. Guild runs, predominently. I was feeling pretty good about maybe flipping the switch to heroic Marrowgar and maybe BQL and maybe even Dreamwalker.

After the TOGC run? Not so much.

I’ll post more pally stuff soon, btw. I’ve been lax, I know. Guild stuff is always beckoning!

(By the way, still recruiting for Cataclysm!)

Kurn's Q&A #27

Wow, folks, it’s been a long, long time since I last had enough search terms to pull off one of these posts!

Looking over the last month, I have, oh, 2,927 search terms that brought people to my site. Hi, 4.0.1, thanks for the bump in traffic! ;)

1) Let’s consolidate all the “holy pally 4.0.1” stuff, shall we?

Go read my What Holy Paladins Need to Know for 4.0.1 post.

2) madranah + server

Interesting. Someone from one of my old guilds is looking for me? Sorry, people, I’m kind of doing this “GM of a guild for Cataclysm” thing, so I’m not going to join your reformed guild, even if one of my RL friends is in it. ;)

3) base mana paladin 85 kurn

I believe that would be 24,732 mana.

4) divine favor 4.0.1

Divine Favor has definitely changed. Once upon a time, hitting it gave us a guaranteed crit on Holy Light, Flash of Light and Holy Shock. Now, it’s a buff that lasts 20 or 30 seconds (depending on whether or not you’re glyphed for it) and increases your spell haste AND your spell crit chance by 20%. Not only that, but because Divine Illumination is gone (15 second buff that used to halve the cost of all spells for the duration), our 2pc T10 bonus has changed. Whenever Divine Favor is active, your healing spells are 35% stronger. So not only do you have 20-30 seconds of increased haste and crit chance (both of which strongly increase your throughput) but if you pop it while wearing two pieces of Tier 10 gear, you’ll have a bonus 35% healing going on as well.

While I still like to use this to offset Divine Plea, this is a fantastic utility spell for us. Either you use it to cover Divine Plea usage or you pop it when your targets are about to eat dirt. Or as often as possible on Dreamwalker. ;) Beautiful!

5) do improved judgements and enlightened judgements stack

Yes, Improved Judgement and Enlightened Judgements stack and so, with the base Judgement range of 10yd, you can get a maximum of 40yds as the rangeĀ  on your Judgement spell.

You should not concern yourself with Improved Judgement yet, though. Enlightened Judgements is handy for the hit and a bit of extra range, but we have very few points to place at 80, so don’t waste two of them on Improved Judgement until you’re at 84, looking for a talent to spend a point on. I recommend 3 in Divinity and 2 in Crusade, then I’d fill out Crusade (3/3) and Eternal Glory (2/2) at 82 and 83, then Improved Judgement at 84 and 85.

6) does sacred shield use gcd

It certainly used to. That said, it’s gone. They got rid of it in 4.0.1. Rest in peace, Sacred Shield. You will be missed.

7) divine intervention gone in patch 4.0?

Also gone, yes. Don’t ask me why. Shaman still have Reincarnation (30m cooldown), druids still have Rebirth (although one druid popping it will put everyone’s on the 30m cooldown!) and warlocks still have Soulstones on a 15m cooldown. And yet, paladins lose their wipe-prevention ability entirely. Way to go, Blizzard.

8) lifeblood 4.0.1

It’s godly. I wish I still had Herbalism on my paladin. Lifeblood now grants 240 haste rating at 450 Herbalism, as well as producing a small heal. Sick! :)

9) addon for speed of light procs paladin holy

You don’t need an addon for this. At 3/3 Speed of Light, every time you cast Holy Shock, you get 4 seconds of 30% spell haste on Flash of Light, Holy Light and Divine Light. You also don’t need an addon for this because it will be changing to a flat spell-haste percentage (1% per talent point). So, for the time being, count to four after using Holy Shock. There’s your addon. ;)

10) 4.0.1 judgement 4% mana

I believe it was Walks who pointed this out to me, but right now, Judgements will not proc Seal of Insight. I tested this out myself today and got absolutely 0 procs while judging. That’s okay, though. Soon enough, we’ll be getting 15% of base mana back when judging with Seal of Insight up. Mana is, by and large, not a problem for us right now anyways.

And a bonus one!

11) holy paladin eternal glory vs paragon of virtue

Because mana isn’t a huge problem right now, I would advise against Eternal Glory for the moment. You basically have to take at least one point in Paragon of Virtue when building a PVE holy spec, so PoV wins over EG at this point in time. When we hit 85, especially considering that PoV will also reduce the cooldown of Hand of Sacrifice, I’ll seriously consider 1/2 Enlightened Judgements and 2/2 PoV when building my holy tree.

And just to pimp out a rockin’ resource, don’t forget to take a look at Oestrus’ Guide to the Chakra Sutra! Oestrus will be healing in Apotheosis in Cataclysm, on her little d0rf priest. :)

Finally, Apotheosis is recruiting for Cataclysm! Sadly, we are not in need of any holy paladins at this time. However, if you want a great raid group who DOES need a holy paladin, definitely check out Choice of Skywall, the guild I spent the last four months in. I can’t say enough good stuff about these people!

Weekend Update

(still without Tina Fey)

What a weekend it’s been, both for Apotheosis and myself! We’ve got new people coming over to Eldre’Thalas every week! And then there are the people who are in touch about their plans to transfer as soon as their obligations for this expansion are done.

Even though recruitment isn’t technically open (soon!) we snagged a commitment from a new shadow priest this week and, in what might be the best news in ages, someone I used to heal with at one point in Wrath is thinking about coming over here for Cataclysm! Ahem. No pressure. ;)

Recruitment will almost certainly open on Monday or Tuesday. I just need to get a couple of web-based things sorted out. Best foot forward, you know?

As for why this was a great weekend for me…

That’s right, I won the Kalu’ak fishing tournament! I did it in Howling Fjord. I hit four spawned pools around Fort Wildevar and then went south down that river and the first spawn there had it on, I think, my second or third cast. I hit Cheetah, then my hearth, then ran up to the dude in Dal and wasted about five precious seconds in trying to just complete the quest without picking a reward. >< I finally selected the Dread Pirate Ring and hit complete. BAM!

Euphie, one of my priests (he was a kick-ass healer in BC and Wrath, who is going shadow for Cataclysm), and I have been fighting over the Kalu’ak fishing tournament for a little while now. I’d been working on it on Kurn over on my last realm, but to no avail. So when I actually got the Blacktip Shark earlier this month, Euphie and I started getting a little competitive. ;) His reaction to my achievement was priceless.

:D Good times. The contest is the last thing Euphie needs for his Salty title and, after winning the content on Saturday, the last thing I needed was One That Didn’t Get Away. I’d long-ago decided (thanks to Euphie, actually) to go for the Dark Herring. Why? Well, it’s got a chance of being in any Fangtooth Herring pool in Howling Fjord, so it’s in Northrend. And any pool in Northrend has a chance at getting the Sea Turtle mount for the Turtles All the Way Down achievement.

So anyways, I did the contest and spent half the day randomly grinning about it. This left me going fishing in Howling Fjord for either the Sea Turtle or the Dark Herring.

This evening, out of nowhere:

Woot! So I got my Dark Herring and I got my Salty title. It’s not even that I particularly WANT to be “Salty Kurnmogh”, but that I like titles. I have all the world event ones required for the meta on Kurn, plus:

Knight-Captain, Jenkins, the Patient, Salty, Chef, of the Nightfall, of Stormwind, of Ironforge, of Darnassus, the Argent Champion, Champion of the Frozen Wastes… and that might be it. I don’t like duplicating titles much between Madrana (who generally gets raid titles) and Kurn, so Kurn does all the world stuff and Madrana does all the raid stuff. Mostly. :)

Anyways, I also completed a project for recruitment that will go live tomorrow or Tuesday, both here and at the Apotheosis website.

It’s definitely been a great weekend both for me and the guild. Just over six weeks until Cataclysm’s launch. So much still to do!

That was a great adventure.

Madrana went “home” today, back to the server she’d started on, back to the guild she’d helped form.

My original intention had been to stay with my Skywall guild until they got their meta achievements for the drakes or raiding had completely stopped for the expansion or Cataclysm launched.

I did not anticipate the amount of time I really feel I need to put into Apotheosis. I’ve barely touched Madrana since the patch and that’s not good for me as a player. I need to get use to new mechanics and I want to write about this stuff, too. But every time I logged in to WoW, I felt like I should have been on ET, doing something guild-related. I’ve done more on Kurn since the patch than on Madrana.

Due to Blizzcon and the patch and everything, my Skywall guild has essentially stopped raiding. Not completely — we had a normal ICC25 run on Monday, which was a hideous experience for me because it was before the holy pally hotfix — but enough that raiding isn’t required any longer by anyone and we weren’t going to raid until something like next Wednesday. Which made me sad; I thought we were going to try to raid this reset, but I totally forgot that half the guild is going to Blizzcon and would make that really difficult to pull off.

Add to that the feeling that I couldn’t just ignore Madrana for another week, which is what I would have done, since we weren’t raiding, and it just made sense to say goodbye now. So after some back and forth with my GM and with Walks and with my brother, I decided to bring Madrana home.

It was so much harder to leave my Skywall guild than I had ever thought it might be. I figured that I’d spend a couple of months there and then hop back to ET at 4.0 and not even blink.

It was hard to leave Apotheosis when we stopped raiding in March of 2009. Leaving this guild to go back to Apotheosis was almost as hard. No kidding, for real, I actually cried while writing my epic-length goodbye post. There are replies there, several of them, which I can barely even read because I’m all emotional about it.

I’m not normally someone who cries easily, especially about something like this. But the guild was just such a haven for me after the outright abuse I experienced in my previous guild. Compassionate, kind, happy voices filtered through my headset every raid. Laughter, gentle ribbing and the like? It was amazing after “healers you fucking suck”.

Senses of humour abounded. In-jokes were developed. I BOPped a tank on Festergut on my second night in and wiped the raid and everyone joked about it.

I was a big part of getting heroic Saurfang for them for their second kill, and the subsequent ones. I was a big part of helping them rescue Dreamwalker — both on my second-ever raid with them.

I helped out with Lady Deathwhisper strat stuff. I was there for Putricide’s two heroic deaths and an epic Sindragosa kill. I was there for lots of achievements, from a couple of Portal Jockeys to Been Waiting a Long Time For This.

So I did what I set out to do. I finished up Wrath with a great raiding group where I made a difference. I had fun. My raid leader would “butt-pull” now and again. One tank would turtle pull (as in mount up on his turtle mount and run in for the pull). I zerged Sarth 3D on 25 a couple of times. I even managed not to get bounced around on Blood Prince Council once.

The last four months have been a great time in WoW for me. I’ve seen my friends and compatriots trickling back to Eldre’Thalas while I’ve had a blast in 25-man raids with a great group of people who kept on pushing and pushing and finally got two of the three hardest encounters in ICC — heroic Putricide and heroic Sindragosa.

It was time to go. The day that I knew would inevitably come had finally arrived.

And even though I cried while writing goodbyes to some of the best personalities I’ve ever encountered in this game (a certain mage is definitely going to be written into a story at some point in time…!), I know that the guild will be okay. They can get Neck-Deep in Vile and All You Can Eat without me. They can get those drakes.

I went to the store this evening to pick up some milk. It was after the transfer, after I’d been re-guilded in Apotheosis, after I’d even run a heroic or something on Madrana. I was walking to the store and thinking about WoW and about how Madrana was home.

And it was just a huge relief, all of a sudden. Uncertainty stresses the crap out of me and not knowing when I’d be transferring was weighing on me more heavily than I realized. I just felt the weight be lifted off me as I took a deep breath of cool October air and knew that I’d made the right decision.

Now I can be more focused on the guild, more focused on my own toons. I don’t have raids to worry about. I can open recruitment and know that if I’m on WoW, chances are, I’m on ET and able to answer questions.

So tonight had me online on ET, hopping around my alts. I ran some stuff on Kurn and I ran some stuff on Madrana. I didn’t rely on my brother’s JC to cut gems to sell. I had some hilarious Vent conversations and gave Apple some advice about running heroics. I chatted with my friends and guildies and I was just generally present for most of the evening.

It was a good day. A sad day, though. I’ll never, ever forget my time in Choice of Skywall. They’re recruiting for Cataclysm, you know. And they definitely have an opening for a holy paladin.

They’re some of the best people it’s ever been my pleasure to run with. If you’re looking for a Cataclysm guild, I have to recommend them. (Apotheosis recruitment is not yet open, but we’re looking for a rogue, a mage, a feral druid, maybe a resto shaman when recruitment opens. No holy paladin spots right now.) 9pm-12am (Eastern) on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Mondays, although you’d have to check with them for when they plan to raid in Cataclysm.

Excellent group of people. Give them a shot if you’re looking. But be aware; I might be the one asked to look over your application. ;)

Thanks, Choice, for four of the best months I’ve spent in this game. I’ll miss you guys. <3

Tales of a GM (1)

I inherited the position of guild master of Apotheosis back in January of 2008, when our then-GM, Toga, stepped down due to work and RL conflicts. Majik and I had decided to both throw our hats in and so I posted that I’d consider it and then that jackass said “Grats!”. So I became the guild master.

It wasn’t a position I ever really wanted. I’m not even sure I want it now, but I know what I need to do as the GM and I know I can do it well. Add my dedication to this game and, particularly, this group of people, and I know I’ll do my best at this job.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a giant pain in the ass now and again.

Even apart from all the in-game obligations (I’d forgotten about the DELUGE of whispers one gets when logging in as the GM!) which include answering basic questions and checking things like who’s joined, quit and the like, there are all the other little things.

Tuesday, for example, I discovered that one of the guildies had created a pretty bad-ass new logo for the guild. Incorporating the logo into the website and the forum will require reformatting, resizing and I might put my own touches on it as well. It’ll also mean new skins/themes for the website and the forum.

I also had a few questions on the forum from a guildie about our plans for progression and the like, before she commits to raiding with us. (Ultimately, she really liked my open and honest answers and has decided to stick with us!)

Then there was a note from another guildie that had to be dealt with quickly because it was important to me.

In the meantime, I found fixes for the cog wheel bug (when you click something in an instance/BG and get disconnected) and the missing projected textures, as well as two awesome posts regarding raid buffs and debuffs in Cataclysm, so I posted all that information to my guild’s website — and also to my current guild’s website, because I’m a nice person like that.

Then, Majik tells me he’s set up a Vent server on his home network that has a sweet connection (they’re running a TF2 server and such at his place), so we organize the server, start making usernames and passwords and the like…

… whereupon I get pulled into a guild Naxx 10 Undying run, where everyone died on Heigan, thanks to the tank who forgot about the spell casting speed debuff and tanked him on the platform. ;) We cleared the rest of the instance without much else issue and, thank you very much, I can kite zombies on Gluth like a champ as a hunter. (I miss Volley and its lack of a minimum range, but moving while Multishotting is kind of awesome.) It dawned on me that it’s about 100 times easier to kite zombies than it is to heal a bad kiter, by the way. :P

Anyways, after the run, I decided to poke around on the new Vent server Majik had set up and discovered that it has a limit of 8 people for the free server version and that to get more slots, you have to ask to be licensed and you’re given 1000 slots. Which means that you’re basically a hosting provider AND Ventrilo can decide not to give you a license, too. So, that clearly isn’t going to work for us.

So I ponied up and expanded my Vent server from 15 slots to 35 and retooled it a bit to give people more channels to talk in and passworded a few channels. Then I added people’s usernames and passwords to the Vent and then sent everyone private messages with the info. (Edit: This was the easiest and fastest solution by far, but thank you for the Mumble recommendations. It’s on the backburner, but I’ll probably be chatting with Majik about Mumble in the not-too-distant future.)

At some point during Tuesday, I also bumped my brother’s main raiding toon and the designated bank alt to a specific rank that allows him to withdraw basically anything. He’s our guild bank administrator, yay! I also made that rank and the regular Officer rank require an authenticator and then asked the officers to log in on their unused alts to get the 72h timer going on those toons. The authenticator requirement doesn’t actually interact with the account database, but rather checks the flag of the individual toon, meaning all new toons will need 72 hours before they can be promoted to ranks requiring an authenticator. Which sucks. But anyways.

I helped a guildie with her blog (which is not ready for the public yet) by helping her add the WoW Recent Achievements widget to her blog.

I also did a couple of things to do with my toons — transmutes, Icy Prism, some Headless Horseman runs and a heroic on my shaman. Bloody hell, it sucks to not be able to cleanse poisons on the shaman! What, it’s not bad enough that they removed Cleansing Totem altogether, but I can’t even TOUCH poisons now?

Anyways, that’s what I did today. Big day of guild stuff, really, but how much got accomplished? Well, everyone can get on Vent, now. We’ve added another person to our starting roster. Players will have the ability to work around the cog wheel and projected textures issues. Oh, and Kurn got the Headless Horseman’s mount, so there’s that. ;)

What remains: beginning recruitment, working on redoing the website and forum themes to better mesh with one of the new logos, responding to some more PMs from members and making sure people know to check the forums regularly!

And it would be nice to get some RL stuff done and also to post here about: raiding in ICC as a holy pally after the patch (it sucks!), raiding in ICC as a holy pally after the patch AND the buff (we’ll see tomorrow?) , the new beta build and the Holy Radiance change, the Seal of Insight change and the Mastery change.

Plus I still have comments to get to.

6:47am. Bedtime. It was a productive guild day, but boy, it felt like it was never going to end.

Hug your guild master today. Chances are, they deserve it.

A Requiem for Zul'Gurub

On October 9th, 2005, I started my subscription to World of Warcraft. That’s when I created Kurnmogh, my night elf hunter.

What many people don’t know is why I started playing. I was never a fan of the Warcraft real-time strategy games. I’d played some Diablo and Diablo II, but never really spent a lot of time with either of those games. I was not one of those target people who already knew about Arthas and Jaina and Illidan and Tyrande and Malfurion. Everything was completely new to me.

So why did I start?

Zul’Gurub is why I started playing this game nearly five years ago.

Actually, it was the “Corrupted Blood” incident that happened in September of 2005 that got me started playing.

You see, I read this article about it and, being someone who’s always liked the fantasy genre along with being a sociology student, I thought this was absolutely fascinating. People deliberately diseasing each other? Killing each other? Even though the behaviour was all within a game setting, I was completely fascinated at the idea of people deliberately infecting others with this plague-like thing. (As an aside, I was THRILLED at the launch of 3.0 because of the zombie plague. It was the ZG plague all over again, but deliberately built into the game and I got to experience it firsthand! My inner sociology nerd had a blast.)

So I first started playing this game due to Zul’Gurub and a buggy game mechanic.

It was only on April 1st, 2006, that I first set foot in Zul’Gurub. Imagine my panic when I read the following words:

Your callous disregard for the sovereign might of the Gurubashi Empire has been noted. The inhabitants of Zul’Gurub has been alerted to your presence.

I could regale you readers with tales of defeat and victory against all the beasts in Zul’Gurub. I could tell you how Axe Throwers were chain-sheeped to deal with them at the time or how falling off the bridges were actual issues. I could tell you how, once, some of us ran the hell out of ZG from Jek’lik’s area when we called a wipe. Turns out that she resets, but bat riders don’t.

But I won’t.

Quite simply, what I want to tell you is that Zul’Gurub was my first real raid instance. My little guild actually cleared the instance fully, including Jin’do. We totally took the Jin’do kill in stride, too. Only a handful of guilds on the server had killed him and here were the lowly Fated Heroes, completely clearing ZG.

It took us a long time to get to that point. We went from three-hour nights on Venoxis (April 1, 2006) to 20-minute “Venoxis runs” on the reset we didn’t plan to fully use. (“Venoxis runs” were led by Majik, primarily so he could get his hands on the Fang of Venoxis so he could replace his Hypnotic Blade while still using his snazzy Tome of the Ice Lord.)

We went from 8/20 people being guildies to doing all-guild runs, with people on standby.

We were once robbed of our first-ever Jek’lik kill by virtue of PTR lag. Back in the days before battlegroups, Eldre’Thalas was on the same server as the PTR realms and this meant that, occasionally, while the PTRs were up, we would experience intense lag spikes. One such lag spike happened on our best-ever Jek’lik attempt, causing her not only to heal without being interrupted, but also causing her to then go forth and kill 80% of the raid. (Similarly, years later, we discovered that Vashj also does not lag.)

We killed Mar’li for the first time while I was on vacation in Italy. I had brought my laptop and nothing was going to stop me from raiding with my crew when we were making progress through ZG. (The raid lasted from about 2am Italy time until about 5am. And then I went and did touristy things after 3 hours of sleep. But Mar’li had died, so it was TOTALLY worth it!)

Arlokk never dropped Will of Arlokk for my brother, Fog, but did give it up to Crypt, our priest officer and healing lead. She also dropped Arlokk’s Hoodoo Stick, snagged by Egop, one of our healing paladins (and later, I snagged this on Madrana). It’s great because it looks like we can dual wield. :D

Thekal’s timing was initially tricky, but we mastered burning the three of them down together, thanks to awesome interrupts by people like Kut (who usually ended up dead on the floor somewhere, but that’s his gift to us!) or Football (who is, and let’s face it, awesomesauce). With the heals not a worry, it was like burning down Core Hound packs in MC, at which we were becoming quite adept.

Mandokir was my favourite fight for a while, if only because we once saw him gain so many levels from all the deaths of the players that not only did Mandokir start yelling “DING!” whenever one of us died, but at one point, Jin’do yelled out “Grats!”.

Obviously, he’d gained too many levels for us to finish him off and we called for a wipe, amid a collection of giggles and laughter.

Gahz’ranka, also known as the fish boss, was entirely dependent on Toga, the only one crazy enough at the time to have levelled fishing. He was also a night elf hunter so one night he and I went to scout out Pagle’s Pointe with some creative feigning and shadowmelding. We even crept up to Jin’do’s area using these methods and took great pleasure in sneaking around Zul’Gurub. We saw a couple of Tome of Polymorph: Turtles. I remember some drama around that — mains vs. alts and the like — but all that really matters is that Majik got his and has shunned every other form of Polymorph since. In fact, I would imagine that he will instruct all mages to acquire this tome so that they will all turtle things in Cataclysm, rather than “sheep” things.

When we finally faced Hakkar, I was more excited about it just because he was considered the “end boss” of Zul’Gurub and my little guild was on the brink of killing him. It only dawned on me later that the Corrupted Blood we all had to acquire in order to kill Hakkar was the same thing that had made me decide to pick up the game. When we got him down, I felt accomplished and felt a bit of a thrill, knowing that I had experienced the mechanic that had brought me to the game in the first place.

Zul’Gurub was the site of many, many, MANY wipes and quite a few victories. It was the place with the bugged out fish. It was a place with two mounts that we never, ever saw. It was even the spot where my brother, who had left the guild shortly after I joined, came back to us and the place where he showed off his new tree form as Fated Heroes’ very first Tree of Life.

When I learned that Zul’Gurub was being removed for Cataclysm, I went back there on my hunter. I got exalted with the Zandalar, from about midway through revered. I fished up a new Tome of Polymorph: Turtle. I farmed Mandokir and Thekal for mounts a few times (still no luck!), finally tamed a tiger cub like I’d been meaning to do for years and then, together, four years after we had first done it by each other’s side, my brother and I killed Hakkar and got the achievement for Zul’Gurub.

Being exalted and having the achievement for ZG doesn’t make it any less sad that this raid instance is being removed. It doesn’t even really make me feel all that much better about it. What it did do, however, was let me say goodbye to an instance that, even all these years later, is still as familiar to me as Stratholme is, or Dire Maul, or Blackrock Depths.

Without ZG, I might never have picked up this game and met some truly amazing people. I certainly wouldn’t have had all the experiences I’ve had over the last five years if not for that instance and its buggy Corrupted Blood. So here’s to you, Zul’Gurub, and your inhabitants. I will miss callously disregarding your sovereign might.